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Buttery Soft Pretzels
Reviews:
July 28, 2007

Good recipe, though I replaced the oil with butter and used less flour. Another reviewer asked why the baking soda bath is necessary: Old world Germans used to dip their brezels (pretzels) in a solution of sodium hydroxide (lye) and water before baking. Lye is a very strong and caustic alkaline. Because most people aren't comfortable mixing lye and water to make pretzels, baking soda - a much weaker alkaline - is now used in most pretzel recipes. Once the pretzels begin baking, a 'Maillard reaction' occurs. This is a chemical reaction sortof like carmelization, which allows the exterior crust to become a deep rich brown color. The reaction accelerates in an alkaline environment, which - you guessed it - has been provided by the baking soda bath. The baking soda, and resulting reaction, is also responsible for the unique taste of a pretzel. Without the baking soda bath the pretzel exterior ends up pale/white, and taste more like bread. This baking soda / lye bath step is paramount in making a pretzel a pretzel.

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